Benzodiazepines are a class of hypnotic and sedative drugs. They directly affect the central nervous system and inhibit the activity of nerve cells. Benzodiazepines have anxiety-reducing, sedative, sleep-inducing, muscle relaxant and anti-spasmodic effects and are therefore used to treat anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, tension and nervousness (e.g. before an operation) and for the emergency treatment of epileptic seizures. Benzodiazepines have severe side effects and should only be taken for a short period of time. They can lead to dependence and severe physical and cognitive impairment, particularly in older adults. The Swiss Atlas of Healthcare shows benzodiazepines dispensed by outpatient care providers.
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